Month: November 2014

Starting a Career in Patents

Career opportunities in patents are becoming more and more attractive as more inventions are made around the world. If you have ever considered becoming a patent specialist, keep reading to learn about the main types of patent occupations and what you need to enter them.

Patent Attorneys

Becoming a patent attorney is easy if you are already a lawyer. You just need to register with the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). File an application, then take a patent knowledge exam at its official testing center. To learn virtually everything you need to pass this exam, take a patent bar preparation course.

Also, you will need to provide USPTO with a certificate of good standing from your state bar association. If you fail to do this, it will register you as a patent agent instead of a patent attorney.

If you are not a lawyer, you will first need to become one by attending an accredited law school for three years. To get a job in a large corporation, select a top 25 U.S. school and try to rank among the top 10% students in your class. After you graduate, apply to USPTO to be registered as a patent attorney.

Patent Agents

A patent agent does almost the same as a patent attorney, but to start working as an agent, you do not have to spend three years at law school. All you need to do is take a patent bar preparation course, file an application with USPTO, and pass the exam. To file an application, you need to be a U.S. citizen or a legal alien.

As a patent agent, you may work for a law firm or a private corporation. Your main job responsibilities will be to draft patent applications and submit them to USPTO in order to obtain a patent for your client. However, unlike a patent attorney, you will not be allowed to open your own legal practice.

IT Patent Professionals

Large technological companies often have hundreds or even thousands of patents in their portfolios. To manage these intellectual archives, they need IT professionals who have expertise in both patent law and technology.

If your current occupation is an IT engineer and you are not fully satisfied with it, consider completing reputable patent law courses. You will then be able to work for a major technology company directly, or for an intellectual property agency that provides patent management services to such firms.


Invention Promotion Firms and Their Services

Being talented enough to invent something in one specific area doesn’t mean that a person can also be proficient enough in business to market his or her invention properly. However, such an accomplishment deserves recognition, and invention promotion firms were established in order to ensure that inventors get the credit and profit that they are due.

The services usually offered by this type of company are:

  • Evaluating the invention’s patentability.
  • Filing the required patent applications, licensing the inventions, and generally dealing with all the paperwork that pertains to these procedures.
  • Negotiating with manufacturers and writing contracts on the inventors’ behalf.
  • Assisting the inventors in gathering funds and building prototypes.
  • Marketing the inventions through various media.

It seems like these firms are exactly what the inventors need. Unfortunately, statistics indicate that their services aren’t as helpful as they should be. The success rate of these companies is less than one percent when it comes to providing the inventor with license fees that can offset the costs of the firm’s services. When you look at the issue from this angle, the most reasonable question to ask is “how do they manage to succeed at all?”

Apparently, being good at marketing and promotion pays the firms’ salaries well, as they use their skills in these areas to attract inventors who feel lost and seek professional assistance. This move is indeed ingenious. However, the majority of the people who have lost their chances to succeed because they entrusted their creations with incapable hands will hardly admire these companies’ tenacities.

These firms make their profits from the money they charge their clients (inventors) for their services. The set amount must be paid up front, so the creator of the product doesn’t get a chance to demand guarantees of his or her patent application getting approved.

Should Inventors Trust Invention Promotion Firms?

Even though the statistics about these companies are abysmal, not all of them are bad. There is usually a list compiled by some of the law enforcement agencies of different countries with the names of firms that have been accused of cheating their clients. As an inventor, you need to find your country’s list and study it carefully. You also need to research the company’s reputation and background in detail.

If you don’t want to take the risks, you can seek the services of various law and patent consulting firms. They should be able to provide you with the information you need to handle the legal parts of the patenting process.

EPLA: Things You Need to Know about the European Patent Litigation Agreement

EPLA, also known as the Draft Agreement on the Establishment of a European Patent Litigation System, is a form of patent law that is similar to the Unified Patent Court Agreement that is coordinated by the European Council and Commission. However, unlike UPCA, the European Patent Litigation Agreement is coordinated by the European Patent Office. This means that it offers an opportunity for people from the non-EU countries to participate.

The European Commission didn’t take lightly to EPLA and proclaimed it to be unlawful. The situation changed in 2006 when the EC started to actively promote mutual recognition of patents between EU and non-EU nations. This active promo campaign in “harmonization” resulted in the inspiring speech by Charlie McCreevy (European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services) on the 12th of July 2006. At that time, he proclaimed that EPLA offered some promise in regards of developing a unitary jurisdiction for national patents. The seeming success was marred in October of the same year when the European Parliament stated that the text of the Agreement required numerous changes before it can be formally accepted.

The situation with EPLA got worse in the beginning of 2007 as its Article 98 directly conflicted with the Article 292 of the EC Treaty for the Member States of the European Union. The two groups, those who supported and those who fought against EPLA got into a heated debate with the former group losing.

The initial EPLA draft introduced in 2003 offered to create a special body that will regulate all the patents within its jurisdiction. It was called EPJ, European Patent Judiciary, and comprised of two parts:

  1. Administrative Committee
  2. European Patent Court

According to the draft, EPJ should establish regional patent chambers, making the national patent courts things of the past. The court that was a part of EPJ would be granted the power to decide all the patent related matters of the EPO member states.

The biggest problem that prevented successful implementation of EPLA was the lack of competence from the EU member countries. They simply could not develop an effective system that would meet such high standards, as long as it fell outside of their legal framework, which was exactly the case. Some of the EU member states also had a few more specific (constitutional) issues with this particular document, like France.

There is no doubt that the idea of EPLA was impressive and quite a few professionals managed to appreciate it. Unfortunately, it is currently impossible to implement successfully.